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Thread: Opera in-Depth: Lulu

          
   
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  1. #1
    Schigolch
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    Opera in-Depth: Lulu

    I fell in love with Lulu a rainy April afternoon, many years ago.

    In the Spanish National Film Library, there was a cycle on German Expressionism cinema, and one of the movies to be showed was G. W. Pabst's Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box), a 1929 silent drama based on Frank Wedekind's plays. From the very instant Louise Brooks appeared on the screen, I was mesmerized. Of course, this could be partly attributed to the many charms of the American actress, but there was something more, a subtle feeling that forced me attend each and every one of the showings in the next few days, even losing some College's classes in the process.



    With time, I made myself familiar with other movies on the subject, with Wedekind's plays and with Berg's opera, that is the finest piece of art of them all. Lulu is arguably the best 20th century opera. Arguably the best opera ever. At least to me, as I have been building an special relationship with this piece, that is already a part of my life: of the boy I was, the middle-aged man I'm, and the elderly person that perhaps I would be, someday.

    So, let's try and see together how we can meet the enigmatic figure of Lulu, and the wonderful Alban Berg's opera, with its radical modernity, its beauty, but also its staring into the abyss, into devastation.


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  3. #2
    Schigolch
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    They are Lulu

    Lulu is a very difficult role for any singer.

    On top of the vocal requirements: wide range, easy top notes (but not coloratura), while maintaning a solid center and the ocassional low note), some acting talent is needed, not to speak of the 'physique du rôle'.

    Alban Berg had in mind one soprano while writing Lulu, the Czech singer Jarmila Novotná:



    Novotná was never to sing Lulu on stage, but we can try to understand the reason behind Berg's choice (apart from the obvious one in the above image) listening to her in the role of Antonia, from Les Contes d'Hoffmann:

    Novotná - Elle a fui, la tourterelle

    Perhaps the first singer to get some recognition in the role was German soprano Helga Pilarczyk:



    She debuted the role in Hamburg, the year 1957. with a staging by Günther Rennert and Leopold Ludwig conducting. The final number, with the death of a Lulu wearing a striking red wig was a sensation, and this staging was then paraded all across Germany, always with Pilarczyk as Lulu. However, some reviewers lamented the portrait of Lulu as a simple, lightweight coquette, replacing the more complex being created by Berg. They were missing the "serpent" component in Pilarczyk's performances.

    In 1962, American soprano Evelyn Lear sung Lulu for the first time, a role she would keep in her repertory until 1980:



    It was an interesting production in Vienna, with Karl Böhm conducting and a staging by Otto Schenck. It's a big success, with twenty minutes of standing ovation the evening of the premiere. Böhm's work, reasoned and very precise, merges well with Schenck's staging, that emphasizes the turn-of-the-century atmosphere associated in the German speaking countries to Wedekind's plays, even if this was not the exact intention of Berg. Lear received incendiary praise as an actress, and she is a beautiful woman, but her voice is simply not Lulu's.

    Lear - Lulu

    Anja Silja was the Lulu of choice since her debut in 1966, until she retired the role, in 1978:



    Her debut was with Ferdinand Leitner singing, and a staging by Wieland Wagner. There were other singers available for Lulu at the same time, but none of them (Joan Carroll, Carole Farley, Catherine Gayer,...) could resist the comparison with Silja. Her Lulu is a very feminine character, but also revealing an androgynous, masculine side, and a sort of innocence that are perfect for the role (at least, for part of the role), and she just became a reference for Lulu.

    Silja - Lulu

    Teresa Stratas was selected for the first complete Lulu, with the original three acts envisaged by Berg, and completed by Friedrich Cerha:



    That was in Paris, back in 1979, with Pierre Boulez conducting and Patrice Chéreau as stage director. Stratas was a good Lulu, even when her voice was not really the best one for the role. She used her appearance, her fragility, to pervade the role with a feeling of vulnerability that really suited Lulu, but also keeping very much in sight the erotic component. She was particularly good singing Lulu's death. She sang her last performance of Berg's masterpiece at Brussels Opera, in 1988.

    Stratas - Lulu


    During some years, there was not a really great new Lulu. Julia Migenes, Karan Amstrong, Catherine Malfitano... were not really there. Perhaps the closest was Patricia Wise:

    Wise - Lulu

    But then, in 1995, a truly sensational Christine Schäfer debuted the role:



    At Szalburg with Peter Müsbach's staging and Michael Gielen conducting. Later, she recorded a wonderful DVD at Glynderbourne. Hers is a feminine, but strong Lulu. With a concentrated energy that she transmits to the audience, and for once being able to fulfill all the vocal requirements in Berg's score. Extraordinary.

    Some of the more recent Lulus are:

    Marisol Montalvo: a really beautiful woman, that was First Runner-Up to Miss America, in 1992, with good acting skills, but not so great vocal talents:

    Montalvo - Lulu (warning: contains nudity)

    Laura Aikin: A veteran of many avantgarde roles, that is a correct, but rather unexciting Lulu:

    Aikin - Lulu

    Patricia Petibon: She is a rather exciting Lulu, but can't cope with all the vocality nuances of the role.

    Petibon - Lulu

    Agneta Eichenholz: The best active Lulu.

    Eichenholz - Lulu

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  5. #3
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    As many of you know, and we will further discuss in this in-Depth project, Lulu is an unfinished opera. Alban Berg died before he could completes the orchestration, in 1937. After his death, there were stagings of Lulu in just two acts, because his widow, Helene, refused to let any composer (in fact, she proposed to Schönberg, but he refused) use the standing material to finish the score.

    Today, after Friedrich Cerha's excellent work on the third act, almost all performances use this version, but we can find complete in youtube a two-act version, from Zurich:

    Lulu: Laura Aikin
    Countess Geschwitz: Cornelia Kallisch
    Painter: Steve Davislim
    Dr. Schön: Alfred Muff
    Alwa: Peter Straka
    Schigolch: Guido Götzen

    Sven-Eric Bechtolf (stage director)
    Franz Welser-Möst (conductor)

    This return to the incomplete two-act version (the finale consists of the Variations and the Adagio from the Lulu Suite, which conclude the work as a kind of coda), was due to conductor Franz Welser-Möst's opinion that the unfinished state of the work was not merely due to the composer’s death in 1935, but also because Berg himself seems to have changed his concept of the opera. I think this view is not supported by the existing documentation:




    On the other hand, we can watch the first staging of the three-act version, as staged in Paris, back in 1979:


    Lulu: Teresa Stratas
    Countess Geschwitz: Yvonne Minton
    Painter: Robert Tear
    Dr. Schön: Franz Mazura
    Alwa: Kennet Riegel
    Schigolch: Toni Blankenheim

    Patrice Chéreau (stage director)
    Pierre Boulez (conductor)




    Any member can make himself familiar with the opera using this material available online.

    The libretto for Lulu can be found here in original German and in Spanish translation:

    http://www.kareol.es/obras/lulu/acto1.htm

    In this link below there is an English translation of the libretto, without the German original:

    http://www.chandos.net/pdf/CHAN%203130.pdf
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 02:32 AM.

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  7. #4
    Schigolch
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    Franz Wedekind (1868-1914) was a born radical.



    Her mother, Emilie Kammerer, the daughter of some Hungarian liberals that fled the country after the 1848's Revolutions, had lived in Chile and Cuba, before singing in the vaudeville and met doctor Wedekind in San Francisco. He was also in exile and they both fell in love and decided to marry and return to Germany, to Hannover, where they will be part of some political movements against the power of the Chancellor Bismark. There in Hannover his son Benjamin Franklin (Franz) Wedekind was born. The family moved later to Switzerland, where our good doctor Wedekind found an exployment as journalist.

    A womanizer, a drinker, a blasphemer... The young Wedeking started to study Philisophy in college, but soon he decided to concentrate on journalism and literature. He travelled to Paris in 1891, where he will be a close friend of Strindberg, and an even closer friend of his wife, Frida. He lives the Bohemian life, and publish his first play (he pays the editorial costs, with his father's inheritance), Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening), on the sexually-oppressive culture of fin de siècle Germany, and the erotic fantasies that it breeds in a group of teenagers, with a tragical ending.

    This piece have been adapted as a succesful Broadway musical and also, more relevant to our subject matter, as an opera, by Belgian composer Benoît Mernier:



    Those years in Paris will be very important to him when he started to work on what would be the masterpiece of his life, the story of Lulu. It will be published in two parts, "Earth Spirit" (Erdgeist, 1895) and "Pandora's Box" (Die Büchse der Pandora, 1904), mainly by practical reasons, because on Wedekind's mind they were just one play (in fact, they were staged as just one piece, under the title of Lulu, in 1913, cutting the last act of Erdgeist and the fist act of Pandora, and also the Jack the Ripper character. But the canonical version remains the two plays together).

    The myth of Pandora is Greek. She was the first woman created by Zeus as a vehicle to carry the Evil into human beings, as a revenge for Prometheus's steal of fire. Pandora (the all-gifted) carries a box containing all possible evils, that must be closed at any price. As could be expected, curiosity won and after the box is opened, many plagues are free to ravage the world. Wedekind's plan was to present Lulu as an atavistic creature, a modern Pandora, a living representation of sexual desire and the inevitability of the clash between civilization and basic instincts. And he wanted also to send a message: sexuality is the same for all social classes, and reveals them as nothing more than an artifice and an injustice.

    Erdgeist was premiered in 1898, in Leipzig, with success and Wedeking himself playing the role of Dr. Schön. The Berlin premiere was in 1902, staged by Max Reinhardt, and there were 150 performances. After that, Pandora was staged in 1904, in Nuremberg, and was also another hit for Wedekind. However, both pieces were accused of inmorality, and a German court banned the plays for being staged in the Reich's territory. This ban was enforced until the defeat of Germany, in 1918.

    Wedekind's plays have not aged well. Today, when the original scandal and the shock of the frank treatment of sex are so far behind us, only the skeleton of the work remains. In this case the Cinema and, of course, Opera have produced an artistic result much improved on the original. However, Wedekind's merit as a creator of a myth of our times, an archetype of modernity, is still there.

    Lulu at the Movies

    While Alban Berg was working in Lulu, he assembled in 1934 the "Lulu Suite" for orchestra and soprano. It was from these first two acts that the music for the concert suite was drawn, in the manner of the earlier Three Fragments from Wozzeck. Though of course it can be used as a kind of first contact with the opera, this is an outstanding work in its own right.



    Germany, the 1920s.

    German cinema is living a veritable golden age with great directors like Fritz Lang, Murnau, Wiene... that are transfering to the silent screen the artistic convictions that Expresionism is advocating since early 20th century.Of course, Wedekind's plays are a temptation and in 1923 Leopold Jessner filmed the story of Lulu, adapting Erdgeist. His Lulu is a big star of the period, Danish actress Asta Nielsen:





    In this version many aspects of the original play are sweetened (there is no lesbian love between Lulu and the Countess, Schigolch is almost a father figure,...), and our heroine is more a femme fatale that the force of Nature we can find chez Wedekind. The movie has only an academic appeal now.

    However, in 1929 the great director G.W. Pabst decided to film a new adaptation of Wedekind's plays. In the movie, under the title of "Pandora'x Box" he put together both plays and present the full story of Lulu. As it was his trademark, Pabst mixed up some social criticism with a more conventional character's development. This is a very good movie, arguably Pabst's best, and one of the best filmed in the 1920s.







    The charming creature in the poster is the American actress Louise Brooks. Pabst was a good friend of Asta Nielsen and other famous European actresses (including Greta Garbo herself), but he was unable to find the right protagonist for his movie. He was considering to engage a young German actress by the name of Marlene Dietrich, when he watched Hawks's movie "A girl in every port", starring Louise Brooks. Pabst immediately decided she would be her Lulu. It was a very wise move. The way Brooks, just twenty two years old, performed Lulu was a true miracle. It wasn't an actress in a role, it was Lulu herself. Something similar, to give an example of the same period, to what happened with Marie Falconetti and Joan of Arc.

    The quality of the movie is really outstanding, but it was not really recognized by the critics until the 1950s, even when there were good box office numbers in Germany and other European countries in the 1920s. Cleverly, Pabst was making Brooks the center of all the action, using her androgynous looks, so full of sensuality, but also strangely vulnerable. In marked contrast with Wedekind's cold, almost robotic, woman, Pabst's Lulu is surrounded by an aura of innocence, of luminosity. A late Romanticism, melancholic, pervades the movie. Technically, the film is a proper son of its time and place, with those vertical shots, framed by sinister shadows and an oppressive atmoshphere... even when there are some small touches of comedy, like the scene in the theater.

    The plot joins Wedekind's two plays, like Berg will do in the opera. The movie starts showing Lulu and her knack for using men, introducing then Dr. Schön's character (performed by Frizt Gortner), the Editor in Chief of an important newspaper. He is Lulu's lover, and the fiancée of the daughter of an important politician. He is also the father of Alwa, a young man with artistic interests. Both will be victims of their attraction to Lulu.

    A very erotic fight between Schön and Lulu forces the ruin of the journalist plans to marry the politician daughter's. He finally will marry Lulu, and we can see after the wedding party the strange death of Schön, that pretends that Lulu shoots herself, but the girl shoots him instead, while the young Alwa confess he is in love with her.

    The trial scene is perhaps the best of the movie. Louise Brooks is captivating, appearing with a suggestive veil that she will manage to increase the tension, and bewitch the prosecutor himself. Taking advantage of a brawl in the courtroom, Lulu escapes.

    In the last part of the movie, we are witness to the spiral of degradation suffered by Lulu: she flees with Alwa by rail, is chased by the justice, travels in a dirty ship, is pretended by an Arab businessman, goes to London as a prostitute where she is murdered by Jack the Ripper in a foggy night, while unaware of Lulu's fate, Alwa deserts her.

    Louise Brooks was never able to get another success like Lulu, and she discreetly retired from the movies in 1938. However, many years later, she published a wonderful autobiography, a must for every Lulu fan to read, "Lulu in Hollywood":


    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 02:40 AM.

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  9. #5
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I look forward to your musical analysis, it should be very interesting.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #6
    Schigolch
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    Alban Berg and Lulu

    Vienna, 1905.

    The writer and publisher Karl Kraus is giving a conference about Wedekind's plays "Edergeist" and "Die Büchse der Pandora”, that will be presented later in a private performance, the only type of performance that was authorized at the time, with Wedekind himself as Jack the Ripper (curiously, Wedekind was also mentioned by some people as a likely candidate to be the Ripper in real life, though the evidence offered was very thin) and his bride-to-be Tilly Newes as Lulu.


    Karl Kraus

    In the audience we could find a young man, barely twenty years old, under the name of Alban Berg. He had read Erdgeist, but this was his first real contact with Wedekind's complete drama, a story that will never be completely out of his mind, until it will blosson many years later in the dark and romantic opera Lulu.

    Berg was excited, partly, because of Kraus's lecture, that was a revelation for him. Kraus, a well known supporter of the radical cause, and the editor of the magazine "Die Fackel", considered Wedekind's plays as a very good example of his own theories about the expiry of the old values, and the need to change social conventions.


    Alban Berg

    Apart from CDs, DVDs and other recordings, I've been able to watch several Lulus live on stage: first in London, with Patricia Wise, then in Berlin, with Laura Aikin. In Seville, with Marisol Montalvo, in Madrid, with Agneta Eichenholz, and the last one at Liceu, in Barcelona, with Patricia Petibon.

    In this youtube we can watch three of those sopranos: Aikin, Petibon and Eichenholz singing Lulu:





    Alban Berg, (Vienna, 1885 - Vienna, 1935) was member of a well-off Viennese family. He started to write music at the age of fifteen, self-taught, back in 1904 he was already a pupil of Arnold Schönberg, that taught him counterpoint, harmony and composition. One of his early pieces, the Sieben frühe Lieder were the first performed before an audience. Schönberg's influence in Berg was very great, apart from the teacher/student relation, both men were friends, and Berg always felt a deep admiration towards the older Schönberg. Alongside Anton Webern, they formed what was called the Second Viennese School, that was the origin of the atonalism and the 12-tone system.

    Berg was part of Vienna's cultural elite, being in contact with composers like Zemlinsky and Schrecker, the painter Klimt, the architect Loos,... He marry the young heiress Helena Nahowski in 1911, and was recruited by the Austrian Army during the Great War, when he started to work on his opera Wozzeck. Precisely, the performance of three fragments from Wozzeck was Berg's first big success. The opera will be premiered in Berlin, the following year, 1925. Ten years later, Berg died while working on Lulu, apparently from blood poisoning after an insect's bite.

    With Wozzeck and Lulu, his best works include:


    1. Vier Lieder, for voice and piano
    2. The String Quartet
    3. Vier Stücke, for clarinet and piano
    4. The Kammerkonzert, for piano, violin and strings
    5. The Concert for violin and orchestra “Dem Andenken eines Engels” (To the memory of an Angel)




    This is a book published by Berg's friend Theodor W. Adorno, in the 1960s. The work of Berg is examined, with an special emphasis on Lulu, that for Adorno it was the best piece by Alban Berg. A very interesting book.

    Let's hear those wonderful Vier Lieder (Four Songs), in the voice of the soprano Irène Joachim:




    Portrait of Alban Berg, by Arnold Schönberg

    It's the year 1927 and Alban Berg is ready to start working on a new opera. He is considering Wedekind's Lulu plays or another play by German writer and Nobel Prize Gerhart Hauptmann, Und Pippa tanzt! (And Pippa dances!). Finally, after some advice by his friend Theodor Adorno and problems to get the rights for Hauptmann's piece, he decides for Lulu.

    The work on the libretto was going pretty well, and in a few months it was almost completed. At the beginning of 1929, Berg wrote to Schönberg "Lulu's is very advanced. Maybe I will finish before the end of this year". Regrettably, Berg's was being too optimistic. First, he is increasingly busy with attending several premieres of Wozzeck in different theaters (he becomes desperate with the disregard of the stage directors to his carefully worded indications on the libretto: "There is always a fight to prevent the stage directors from distorting Wozzeck out of recognition. I've decided to wrote for Lulu indications so precise that they could not ignore them". Yes, Berg was being naive), and also he need to combine Lulu with other works, like Der Wein.

    By mid 1934, with Lulu still not completed, Berg received a proposal from Erich Kleiber to premiere the opera at the Berliner Staatsoper. Full of excitement, he starts to orchestrate the last two acts. However, the Nazi authorities are not happy with Kleiber's plan. Berg writes to Schönberg, who has already left Germany: "All his (the Nazi) lies are exposed. My work is not accepted in Germany, even if I'm an Aryan composer, and Wedekind a German and an Aryan writer".

    Berg decided then to create the piece known as the "Lulu suite", combining several fragments of the opera. It was premiered in Berlin, nine years after Wozzeck's premiere. It was the last time Berg's music was played in Germany, until the end of the Second World War. The audience received the music warmly, but the reviews in the Press were very unfavourable, accusing Berg of "degenerate musical experiments" or "glorify the story of a whore". After the scandal, Kleiber resigned his post at the Berlin Opera.


    Manon Gropius

    Already in 1935, with two acts completed and working on the orchestration of the third and last, the young girl Manon Gropius, the daughter of Berg's friends Walter Gropius and Alma Mahler, died. The composer was very fond of the young Manon and he interrupted again his work on Lulu, to wrote an extraordinarily beautiful piece, the concert for violin and orchestra, "To the memory of an Angel". This is just magical music.

    After finishing his work on the concert, Berg comes back to Lulu. However, he dies before being able to complete the opera, at fifty years old.

    Her wife, Helena, tried to convince Schönberg or Webern to finish Lulu, but both declined the offer. Under those circumstances, Helena decided not to engage any other composer, and premiere the two acts available in Zurich, the second of June, 1937. It was only after Helena Berg's death, that an Austrian composer, a reputed specialist on the Second Viennese School, Friedrich Cerha, can complete the opera, having access to all existing documentation. In this way, finally a full version of Lulu is premiered in Paris, the 24th of February, 1979, conducted by Pierre Boulez, and with Teresa Stratas singing Lulu.

    Let's hear the wonderful concert written by Alban Berg, in loving memory of Manon Gropius:

    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 02:53 AM.

  11. #7
    Schigolch
    Guest
    Discography



    Lulu: Ilona Steingruber
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Eugenia Zareska
    Dr. Schön: Heinz Rehfuss
    Alwa: Kurt Rösche
    The Painter: Ratko Delorko
    Schigolch: Dimitri Lopatto

    Conductor: Bruno Maderna (1959) - RAI Orchestra and Chorus

    There is another version with Steingruber as Lulu, in Vienna, mildly interesting, but this one is better, with a good sound, and the fascinating work of Maderna, making an Italian orchestra sound properly Viennese, while at the same time reading the score from a distance. Lulu is (among other things) a romantic opera, not a Romantic or late-Romantic opera, and Maderna knew very well the difference.

    Steingruber was always a second-rate singer, and it shows, though she is sincere enough in her effort. Rehfuss and Lopatto are solid performers, while Delorko and Rösche should had better trade places.

    Overall: B





    Lulu: Evelyn Lear
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Patricia Johnson
    Dr. Schön: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
    Alwa: Donald Grobe
    The Painter: Loren Driscoll
    Schigolch: Josef Greindl

    Conductor: Karl Böhm (1968) - Berlin Orchestra and Chorus


    Great sound, solid conducting and nice singing (from most performers). A good version, then... Well, not that good due to the inadequacy of Evelyn Lear's singing, and the lingering feeling after hearing the opera than after all, Berg was not Mahler, not should be made to resemble Mahler. Fischer-Dieskau's Schön is a little bit feeble, but gorgeous from a vocal point of view, and Greindl's is a real luxury as Schigolch.

    Overall: B-




    Lulu: Anja Silja
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Martha Mödl
    Dr. Schön: Ernst Gutstein
    Alwa: Waldemar Kmentt
    The Painter: William Blankenship
    Schigolch: Hans Hotter

    Conductor: Karl Böhm (1968) - Vienna Staatsoper Orchestra and Chorus

    This is a live recording, and the sound is not perfect, but good enough, though the orchestra is sometimes too far lost in the background. Silja was a stunning Lulu on stage. Sadly, as in other roles, her recorded voice is not up to the staging artist. She is head and shoulders above Lear, in any case. Martha Mödl and Hans Hotter are simply unbelievable here, and Gutstein one of the best Schön ever. Alwa and the rest of the cast, just adequate. Again, Karl Böhm produces some moments full of sensuality, even erotic, but more in a Mahler's mold, than in Berg's.

    Overall: B




    Lulu: Anja Silja
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Brigitte Fassbaender
    Dr. Schön: Walter Berry
    Alwa: Josef Hopferwieser
    The Painter: Alfred Szramek
    Schigolch: Hans Hotter

    Conductor: Christoph von Dohnanyi (1976) - Vienna Philharmoniker

    This comes in acceptable sound, but not a fine one, taking into account is an studio version. However, this is an opportunity for Silja to produce a more refined singing, and be the first really good recorded Lulu. Also Fassbaender and Walter Berry are performing very well, so this was a balanced and interesting cast. Von Dohnanyi offers also the romantic lecture, but in this case à la Berg, as it should be.

    Overall: B+





    Lulu: Teresa Stratas
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Yvonne Minton
    Dr. Schön: Franz Mazura
    Alwa: Kenneth Riegel
    The Painter: Robert Tear
    Schigolch: Toni Blankenheim

    Conductor: Pierre Boulez (1979) - Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus


    Finally a complete Lulu. The world premiere was entrusted to Pierre Boulez and this recording was made a few months after the triumphant first performances in Paris. Stratas is a good Lulu, though better on stage than in recording. The rest of the cast is solid, but unexciting. Boulez's clear, analytical, conducting is perhaps the best feature on this CD, that is a must for all opera lovers.

    Overall: B+




    Lulu: Patricia Wise
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Brigitte Fassbaender
    Dr. Schön: Wolfgang Schöne
    Alwa: Peter Straka
    The Painter: Graham Clark
    Schigolch: Hans Hotter

    Conductor: Jeffrey Tate (1991) - France National Orchestra and Chorus

    This is a recording from a live performance, but in good enough sound. I'm partial to Patricia Wise's Lulu, that was my first live Lulu. She is not the best Lulu ever, but she is far from the worst. The rest of the cast is good, with a very, very mature Hotter in one of his last performances. Tate's conducting is also adequate.

    Overall: B




    Lulu: Christine Schäfer
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Kathryn Harries
    Dr. Schön: Wolfgang Schöne
    Alwa: David Kuebler
    The Painter: Stephan Drakulich
    Schigolch: Norman Bailey

    Conductor: Andrew Davies (1996) - London Philarmonic
    Stage Director: Graham Vick


    This semicircular brick wall with the descending stair case and opening in the floor it's a first sight a rather dull and static stage, but it's brilliantly used by Graham Vick to get his singers enter and left the scene, in a straightforward, almost clinical dissection of the libretto and the score. The silent film is projected in exactly the way Alban Berg had in mind. A powerful and very succesful production.

    Christine Schäfer is simply the best Lulu ever. Her top notes are perfect, and she negotiates her way across the many difficulties of the role as if she was strolling in the park. Around her, there is a very solid cast, offering an even performance, and a nice feeling of team work.

    Davies's orchestra is the weakest link here. Yes, it's producing some lovely sounds,... but just too lovely, again this is not a late-Romantic piece, but the first 12-tone opera ever composed. Sure there is romanticism in the score, but it should be played as Berg, not as Strauss or Mahler.



    Overall: A






    Lulu: Laura Aikin
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Cornelia Kallisch
    Dr. Schön: Alfred Muff
    Alwa: Peter Straka
    The Painter: Steve Davislim
    Schigolch: Guido Götzen

    Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst (2002) - Opernhauses Zürich
    Stage Director: Sven-Eric Bechtolf


    This version presents the incomplete two-act version seen at the 1937 premiere with a finale consisting of the Variations and the Adagio from the Lulu Suite. This is a very unsatisfactory solution, when the completed Cerha version is available. Really detracting, with a rather dull production on top. Lulu's body double is not really working.

    Laura Aikin is a seasoned professional, and an expert in contemporary operas. Regrettably, she is not Lulu, though she provides a satisfactory surrogate in the singing area, and quite good acting. The rest of the cast is just so-and-so, perhaps Peter Straka's Alwa is the most interesting apart from Aikin.

    The orchestra is merely competent, nothing really exciting here. On the good side, there is nothing really annoying, either.



    Overall: B-





    Lulu: Agneta Eichenholz
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Jennifer Larmore
    Dr. Schön: Michael Volle
    Alwa: Klaus Florian Vogt
    The Painter: Will Hartmann
    Schigolch: Gwynne Howell

    Conductor: Antonio Pappano (2009) - ROH
    Stage Director: Christof Loy


    This production goes a step beyond mininalism, to use an empty stage, with just some lighting effects to stand for Lulu's portrait, the silent film and indeed anything you can name in the libretto, except the characters themselves... Or, wait, also the characters, that were instructed to just sing and fix a blank stare into the audience. Loy's Lulu has nothing to do with Berg's (in fact, if you are not already familiar with the opera, you can't possibly understand anything about the action, or lack of action, on the stage), but it's strangely succesful as al alternative vision for seasoned Lulu's fans.

    Fortunately, the singers are much better than the staging. Agneta Eichenholz is a fascinating Lulu, singing with abandon, as if there was a ventriloquist telling her lines, but the result is quite attractive. She is also very attractive, too. Vogt's Alwa is probably the closest to the one Berg's had in mind, while Volle is a solid Schön, and Jennifer Larmore a splendid Countess.

    The orchestra sounds great, and for once, not Romantic or late-Romantic.



    Overall: B+





    Lulu: Patricia Petibon
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Julia Juon
    Dr. Schön: Ashley Holland
    Alwa: Paul Groves
    The Painter: Will Hartmann
    Schigolch: Franz Grundheber

    Conductor: Michael Boder (2010) - Liceu Orchestra and Chorus
    Stage Director: Olivier Py


    This production was resembling more Jacques Tati's Playtime, than Berg's Lulu. Too many things are happening on the stage at the same time, and everything is a little bit confusing.

    Patricia Petibon is a notable actress-singer. Her vocality is very stressed in Lulu, but she manages to sing the opera with something resembling confidence, and her Lulu is sensual to a fault. Paul Groves was almost inaudible as Alwa. Ashley Holland was inaudible as Dr. Schön. Good performances by veterans Julia Juon and Franz Grundheber.

    Liceu's orchestra,... well, it was the Liceu orchestra one more time.



    Overall: B-





    Lulu: Patricia Petibon
    Gräfin Geschwitz: Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
    Dr. Schön: Michael Volle
    Alwa: Thomas Piffka
    The Painter: Pavol Breslik
    Schigolch: Franz Grundheber

    Conductor: Marc Albretch (2010) - Wiener Philharmoniker
    Stage Director: Vera Nemirova

    Incredibly enough, there are two DVDs of Lulu released the same year, and with the same singer.

    The sets are really nice, but there are totally divorced from the action, more a distraction than anything else. The singers look confused about their acting, too.

    Petibon is more or less the same than in the Liceu DVD, as could be expected. The surrounding cast is better in the roles of Alwa and Schön, and this provides a somewhat better experience.

    We can get also a better experience from the pit and the orchestra, but this was not really difficult.



    Overall: B
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 02:56 AM.

  12. #8
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Lulu - The Drama

    A good sypnosis of Lulu is available on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lulu_(opera)#Synopsis



    After Wozzeck's success everyone was expecting from Berg another avant-garde opera, both musically and dramatically. His decision to adapt Wedekind's plays was not a surprise to anyone... with the possible exception of Arnold Schönberg, that wrote: "I have never understood why such an amiable and refined person as Berg, is so interested in this kind of pieces, that carry the risk of a big failure".

    But, actually, Wedekind was much more in fashion in the 1920s than at the beginning of the century. The initial shock was replaced by a reputation of cinic and amoral writer, but something of a closet scandal. The atmosphere was ripe for an adaptation to the opera house,... even if Nazism was just there, waiting.

    Wedekind's plays were more complex to put into music than Wozzeck. Berg decided to use a formal symmetry hiding a complex and elusive message. In this way, the first act and the first half of the second, are devote the Lulul's rise. Just in the center there is the pinnacle, the silent film (itself a palindrome), and then the rest of the second act, and the full third act present Lulu's downfall, ending in her death at the hands of Jack the Ripper. The silent film is also a bridge, joining together “Erdgeist” and “Pandora”.

    Berg kept the structure in one prologue and seven scenes of the original plays but, for practical reasons, he needed to reduce the duration. Admirably, he not only maintain the drama alive, but he made it better in the process. The silent film was really a stroke of genius, a very effective tool. Incredibly, some stage directors supress this movie, just projecting slides or with the orchestra playing with a closed curtain... a complete misreading of the opera.

    Only the protagonist are fully named in Lulu, the secondary roles are just called by their function: Athlete, Painter, Student, Professor, Manservant, Marquis, Doctor, Animal Tamer,.. In yet another stroke of genius, he further stressed the symmetry making that Lulu's three husband are also the three clients of the last act: the Doctor becomes the Professor, The Painter a Negro, and Schön, Jack the Ripper. For each character in Lulu, Berg not only provide a role in the drama, but also a musical identity based on a 12-tone series, a timbre, a rythm, a musical form,...



    Main roles

    Lulu

    She is very different from Wedekind's Lulu. In the plays, she is more a force of Nature than a real person. A kind of notable figure in the erotic imaginery of Mankind, remaining basically alien to her effects on other people. Shrouded in mistery, a primeval being.

    In Berg, she is a real woman, that makes her decisions and is the protagonist of her own life. Gifted with a halo of innocence, irresistible. When she loses that innocence, after killing Schön, she starts her decline and fall.

    During her work in Lulu's libretto, Berg watched Pabst's Die Büchse der Pandora, and was certainly influenced by the movie. Very far from the cynicism and depravity in Wedekind, he wrote that Brook's Lulu was "an epiphany of Beauty in an insane world".

    Maybe, in this small dialogue of the opera is the key of this transformation. When Alwa confess his love to Lulu, he asks her: "Do you love me, Mignon?". In Wedekind the answer is "I've never loved anyone". In Berg, is just a straightforward "I don't know".


    Dr. Schön – Jack

    He is essential to the plot, even after his death. The lover of Lulu since she was twelve, the Tiger of the Prologue. He considers himself Lulu's master, and so he can legitimately asks anything from her. In Wedekind's he is just another victim of Lulu, while in the opera he is rather her nemesis: a corrupter as Schön, and a murderer as the Ripper.

    Alwa

    Alwa is Wedekind himself in the plays, and Berg decided to keep this in the opera, so he changed his profession from writer to composer. He loves Lulu, but he delivers her to the police, only to further inflame his passion.... He is however the one closer to grasp Lulu's true nature.

    Countess Geschwitz

    She is more important in the plays, than in the opera. She is just a soul in love, without hope, without any horizon beyond her love for Lulu. Berg is using this character to provide dramatic support in some scenes, and then, in another wonderful stroke of simmetry, her doom mirroring Lulu's, in an extraordinary ending of the opera, much above anything in Wedekind's plays.

    Schigolch

    A complex character. Father, lover, friend?... His dreadful physical appearance reinforces his moral degeneration.


    Painter / Negro

    The Painter is another idealist that falls in love with Lulu, and is doomed to death for that. His reapperance as the Negro in the third act, is signaled by his murder of Alwa, while the orchestra plays the 12-tone series of the Painter.


    Athlete / Animal Tamer

    This is Rodrigo in Wedekind, and one more of the picturesque group of people surrounding Lulu. Not the most brilliant of guys, he is just deceived by Lulu and the Countess when he is more a trouble than a help. As the Animal Tamer, he introduces the opera, in the role that later will be Alwa's.

    High-school boy

    Hugenberg in Wedekind. He loves Lulu in a naive fashion, he pretends she is not guilty of Schön's killing, and tries to liberate her from prison. Then, Alwa informs Lulu that the boy has killed himself, but she is just indifferent to the news.

    Prince / Manservant / Marquis

    A small role, but pretty fundamental to the plot, as he is in charge of being witness to Lulu's decline. Fervently in love, a hopeless worshipper, a disdainful lover.

    Portrait of Lulu

    Painted by her second husband, Lulu is wearing Pierrot's costumes. In the libretto this is providing a symbol, always present on stage. It's like the reverse of Dorian Gray's portrait. Here is the real Lulu that is declining, while the painting is unaltered. The Countess dies gazint at this perfect portrait, and she falls again in love with Lulu. With this inaprensible, beautiful and pure Lulu, that will remain forever in the portrait.

    -----------

    Comments

    [Almaviva] Huh, that picture of a staging is eerily similar to Willy Decker's staging of La Traviata!

    [Schigolch] This staging was also from Willy Decker, prior to that La Traviata.

    The staging on those pictures was rather eventful!.

    The original Decker's staging goes back to 1998. However, the pictures are from a revival performed in 2003, at Paris Bastille Opéra.

    Laura Aikin was hired to sing Lulu. However, she broke her leg, and her cover, Marisol Montalvo, was ready to play Lulu on opening night... when she lost her voice!. The final solution was that Montalvo will be on stage as Lulu (as can be seen in the pictures), while Aikin will sing the role positioned at the stage's edge in a black pantsuit over her cast and the use of a chair and walker.

    [Almaviva] Wow, that's wild!
    Talk about "break your leg" as an expression (although it's not used in opera, since opera artists prefer "toi toi toi")
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 03:05 AM.

  13. Likes Amfortas liked this post
  14. #9
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Schigolch

    ... His dreadful physical appearance reinforces his moral degeneration.
    Great post! But . . . don't be so hard on yourself.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    This staging was also from Willy Decker, prior to that La Traviata.
    Thanks for clearing that up. I too was about to accuse either Decker or that Lulu director of blatant plagiarism. Nice to know it's just Decker stealing from himself.

  16. #11
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    Thanks for clearing that up. I too was about to accuse either Decker or that Lulu director of blatant plagiarism. Nice to know it's just Decker stealing from himself.
    Still, it's a bit disappointing that he'd be re-heating old concepts. Although, it's nothing new in the history of opera, just ask Rossini.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  17. #12
    Schigolch
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    The Music of Lulu

    Roles


    Lulu: Soprano capable of a wide range singing, with top easy notes, but solid middle and low registers. Not a big deal of coloratura is needed.

    Schön: Dramatic baritone, with a wide range too. He must solved quick transitions between his low and top notes.

    Alwa: Heroic tenor, Berg's inspiration was the first act of Tannhäuser.

    Painter:: Typical lyrical tenor, with a range between A1 and A3.

    Countess: Dramatic mezzo, not a difficult role to sing, but some acting skills are required.

    Schigolch: Bass-baritone, usually sung by veteran singers.


    Like in Wozzeck, there are different vocal techniques used in Lulu: plain singing, recitative, arioso, sprechgesang, spoken voice,...

    The orchestra

    Similar to Wozzeck's, though with some less instruments. A great flexibility is required. The timbrical choices are of great importance, because Berg is using an association of some instruments with some roles and situations: strings with Schön and romantic interludes, cellos and double basses with Schigolch, saxophone with Alwa and the show business world, piano with the Athlete,...

    The musical language

    In Lulu, Berg is accepting the challenge of writing an opera based on the 12-tone system:

    http://www.operalively.com/learn/the...e-tone-system/

    He wrote a fundamental row, representing Lulu, and then he proceeded to extract other derived rows for the rest of characters, and also some situations in the libretto. He combined this procedure with some very defined musical forms (canon, sonata, vals,...) to build a very complex, but also effective structure.

    This is the fundamental row (Lulu's row) devised by Berg:

    C - E - F - D - G - A - F# - G# - B - A# - D# - C#

    There were up to 30 other rows in the score. For instance, Alwa's row was created using a downward transposition of seven semitones, followed by a retrograde.

    Those 30 rows are:


    • Alwa
      Athlete
      Bells
      Canzonetta
      Animal Tamer
      Coral
      Doom
      Charm
      Erdgeist
      Stage
      Student
      Gavota
      Geschwitz
      Habanera
      Lulu (fundamental row)
      Marquis
      Manservant
      Doctor
      Hauptrhytmus
      Musette
      Painter
      Prince
      Destiny's Rythm
      Every man for himself
      Schigolch
      Schön
      Love's theme I
      Love's theme II
      Vals
      Wedekind


    Berg is using those rows many times as leitmotifs, in the score.

    We need also to remember than the orchestration of the third act is by Friedrich Cerha. He used Berg's piano reduction for the third act, the libretto, some hand-written papers by Berg, and Lulu's suite. With this material, and Berg's intention of using symmetry as the driving force for the opera, Cerha completed a great job. It's clear we will never know how Berg's third act would have developed, but personally I'm persuaded it would be very similar to Cerha's.

    Prologue


    Curtain up. The first bars are using the row "Erdgeist", then we hear a stroke in the timpani, that corresponds to the pistol shot in Wedekind's drama. Tha Animal Tamer starts in sprechgesang, 'Hereinspaziert in die Menagerie..', while we hear its own row and "Doom" row, and then he switch to "Alwa"'s row, that is revealed as the true presenter of the opera. Finally, the Animal Tamer drops the sprechgesang, and sings the "Painter"'s row in 'Das wahre Tier..'.

    We can watch the animals being presented: the Tiger ("Schön"'s row), in the cellos. The Bear ("Athlete"'s row) in the double basses. The Camel (with "Lulu"'s row, completely transposed) and then the Cocrodile ("Geschwitz"'s row).

    When the orchestra switch to the "Charm"'s row, the Animal Tamer invokes the Serpent: 'Bring mir unsre Schlange her !..'. Here we should see Lulu, stage director permitting, and hear the "Destiny's Rythm"'s row, in the piano. Then a beautiful chord almost in B major, with the violins, the double basses, percussion and a sensual saxophone, 'Urgestalt des Weibes'. Berg's meaning is clear: Lulu is at the same time light and shadow, harmony and dissonance. Then we can hear "Lulu"'s row, and, in the first of many simmetries, all other rows in the Prologue in revert order, the a return to the sprechgesang, and the circle is complete: 'Verehrtes Publikum..'.

    Sprechgesang is a vocal technique just about in the middle of singing and speaking.

    We can watch this scene in youtube, with Christiane Boesiger's as Lulu (warning: contains nudity):



    First Act

    First Scene

    Berg was always very worried about the formal structure of his operas. He was perfectly aware that he was getting very far from a standard Post-Romantic piece, with the twelve-row system, coming back to numbers opera, new vocal techniques,... so he tried to anchor all this, in Wozzeck as in Lulu, using traditional musical forms. In his view, this provided the right canvas for his style of painting.

    So, for Lulu's first scene we got:


    Recitative (Alwa, Schön, Lulu)
    Canon (Lulu, Painte )
    Melodrama (Lulu, Painter, Doctor)
    Spoken dialogue, Canzonetta (Lulu, Painter)
    Arioso (Painter)
    Interlude

    Briefly, a Canon is a musical form in which the first voice is singing (or playing, if instrumental) a melody, and then the second voice mirrors (i.e., it exactly repeats, or performs some variations) the initial melody, after a given duration. There could be more than two voices, of course.

    Melodrama is a 18th century technique, using spoken words, with no singing, but following a musical rhythm.


    The recitative stars with the "Stage" row. Lulu is talking about Schön's fiancée, accompanied by the vibraphone. Schön talks to the Painter, while we hear "Schön" row in the cello. Then, the piano is introducing "Erdgeist" while Lulu and the Painter are now alone. The Painter is in love with Lulu, 'Gnädige Frau...' while the young woman flirts with him, again with the "Stage" row.

    The Canon begins with Lulu's sentence: 'Sie bekommen mich noch lange nicht..' and is developing while the Painter pursues Lulu across all the stage. We can hear first the piano, then the harp and the vibraphone, until Lulu is caught. The Canon ends with a coda in the trombones, while the Painter and Lulu talk.

    Then we have the Melodrama, with singing transforming into sprechgesang and the arrival of the Doctor, Lulu's husband, while we hear the row "Destiny's Rythm". After the death of the Doctor, Lulu sings a Canzonetta with a melody in the saxophone: 'Auf einmal springt er auf…'. Then a recitative symmetrical to Melodrama, with the answers of Lulu sung in a lyrical, very beautiful, arioso: 'Jetzt bin ich reich…'.

    She is answered by the Painter, with his own arioso: 'Ich möchte tauschen mit dir…', and towards the end we can hear the row "Charm" in the trombone. Is this 12-tone or tonal music?.

    In the interlude, the saxophone is playing again the Canzonetta, while the rest of the orchestra come back to the Canon.

    Silence.



    Recently in Berlin, some performances of Lulu were given, not using either the two-act version with the usual addendums or the three-act completed by Cerha, by another, new, version completed by David Robert Coleman, musical assistant of the Berlin Staatsoper.

    Sounds strange?. Not really, the thing is that stage director Andrea Breth did not like one of the two scenes completed by Cerha (in purity, she did not like Berg's scene, as she was claiming dramatic reasons for this), so they decided just to strip it completely of the score, with the acquiescence of Daniel Barenboim.

    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 15th, 2012 at 03:11 AM.

  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Lulu is a very difficult role for any singer.

    On top of the vocal requirements: wide range, easy top notes (but not coloratura), while maintaning a solid center and the ocassional low note), some acting talent is needed, not to speak of the 'physique du rôle'.

    Alban Berg had in mind one soprano while writing Lulu, the Czech singer Jarmila Novotná:



    Novotná was never to sing Lulu on stage, but we can try to understand the reason behind Berg's choice (apart from the obvious one in the above image) listening to her in the role of Antonia, from Les Contes d'Hoffmann:

    Novotná - Elle a fui, la tourterelle

    Perhaps the first singer to get some recognition in the role was German soprano Helga Pilarczyk:



    She debuted the role in Hamburg, the year 1957. with a staging by Günther Rennert and Leopold Ludwig conducting. The final number, with the death of a Lulu wearing a striking red wig was a sensation, and this staging was then paraded all across Germany, always with Pilarczyk as Lulu. However, some reviewers lamented the portrait of Lulu as a simple, lightweight coquette, replacing the more complex being created by Berg. They were missing the "serpent" component in Pilarczyk's performances.

    In 1962, American soprano Evelyn Lear sung Lulu for the first time, a role she would keep in her repertory until 1980:



    It was an interesting production in Vienna, with Karl Böhm conducting and a staging by Otto Schenck. It's a big success, with twenty minutes of standing ovation the evening of the premiere. Böhm's work, reasoned and very precise, merges well with Schenck's staging, that emphasizes the turn-of-the-century atmosphere associated in the German speaking countries to Wedekind's plays, even if this was not the exact intention of Berg. Lear received incendiary praise as an actress, and she is a beautiful woman, but her voice is simply not Lulu's.

    Lear - Lulu

    Anja Silja was the Lulu of choice since her debut in 1966, until she retired the role, in 1978:



    Her debut was with Ferdinand Leitner singing, and a staging by Wieland Wagner. There were other singers available for Lulu at the same time, but none of them (Joan Carroll, Carole Farley, Catherine Gayer,...) could resist the comparison with Silja. Her Lulu is a very feminine character, but also revealing an androgynous, masculine side, and a sort of innocence that are perfect for the role (at least, for part of the role), and she just became a reference for Lulu.

    Silja - Lulu

    Teresa Stratas was selected for the first complete Lulu, with the original three acts envisaged by Berg, and completed by Friedrich Cerha:



    That was in Paris, back in 1979, with Pierre Boulez conducting and Patrice Chéreau as stage director. Stratas was a good Lulu, even when her voice was not really the best one for the role. She used her appearance, her fragility, to pervade the role with a feeling of vulnerability that really suited Lulu, but also keeping very much in sight the erotic component. She was particularly good singing Lulu's death. She sang her last performance of Berg's masterpiece at Brussels Opera, in 1988.

    Stratas - Lulu


    During some years, there was not a really great new Lulu. Julia Migenes, Karan Amstrong, Catherine Malfitano... were not really there. Perhaps the closest was Patricia Wise:

    Wise - Lulu

    But then, in 1995, a truly sensational Christine Schäfer debuted the role:



    At Szalburg with Peter Müsbach's staging and Michael Gielen conducting. Later, she recorded a wonderful DVD at Glynderbourne. Hers is a feminine, but strong Lulu. With a concentrated energy that she transmits to the audience, and for once being able to fulfill all the vocal requirements in Berg's score. Extraordinary.

    Some of the more recent Lulus are:

    Marisol Montalvo: a really beautiful woman, that was First Runner-Up to Miss America, in 1992, with good acting skills, but not so great vocal talents:

    Montalvo - Lulu (warning: contains nudity)

    Laura Aikin: A veteran of many avantgarde roles, that is a correct, but rather unexciting Lulu:

    Aikin - Lulu

    Patricia Petibon: She is a rather exciting Lulu, but can't cope with all the vocality nuances of the role.

    Petibon - Lulu

    Agneta Eichenholz: The best active Lulu.

    Eichenholz - Lulu
    About Evelyn Lear and Teresa Stratas, I don't like them for the role. I have both recordings, E.L. In a very old Long Play, T.S. with Pierre Boulez are a Molotov combination for having nothing good at all. Of course, this is IMHO.

    Martin

  19. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by myaskovsky2002 View Post
    About Evelyn Lear and Teresa Stratas, I don't like them for the role. I have both recordings, E.L. In a very old Long Play, T.S. with Pierre Boulez are a Molotov combination for having nothing good at all. Of course, this is IMHO.

    Martin
    For me the best Lulu is Christina

  20. #15
    Schigolch
    Guest
    Those days there is an interesting experiment in Berlin, at the Komische Oper.

    Olga Neuwirth, based on Alban Berg’s Lulu, transform the characters into African-Americans whose fate plays out against the backdrop of the US protest movements of the sixties and seventies. The third act (in New York) contains new music and text by Neuwirth and her librettists. Berg’s music in the first two acts is orchestrated for a type* of jazz ensemble, because it is the music for Lulu’s flashback to 1950s New Orleans.


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